1 May 2017

GI News - May 2017

GI News

GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre.

Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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What other species gleefully jiggles their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or laps up the tongue curling delights of a lemon? In The Conversation, Dr Darren Curnoe took a look at why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life. The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence he says. This edited extract is reproduced with his permission.


For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so. I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself. A new study finds that primate brain size is better predicted by diet than any measure of sociality, suggesting a revision is needed to prevailing hypotheses explaining brain size evolution.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department. Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size. While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began. How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies. The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavour, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

This is an edited extract. For Darren’s complete article, head over to The Conversation

Contact: Darren Curnoe is Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW
Study: Primate brain size is predicted by diet but not sociality



Eating more fruit is linked to a lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications reports a new study. The authors studied 500,000 Chinese people over seven years and found those who said they ate more fresh fruit were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than others. Those who already had diabetes but ate a lot of fruit were less likely to die within a five-year period. “This large prospective study of Chinese adults with and without diabetes showed that higher fresh fruit consumption was significantly associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes, and also with a lower risk of dying or developing vascular complications among those who have already developed diabetes. These associations appeared to be similar in both men and women, in urban and rural residents, and in those with previously diagnosed and screen-detected diabetes. Moreover, higher fresh fruit consumption was not associated with elevated level of blood glucose,” conclude the researchers

Study: Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults

Contact: huaidong.du@ctsu.ox.ac.uk; lmlee@vip.163.com



The findings of a meta-analysis published in Pediatrics reports that consumption of 100% fruit juice:

  • is associated with a small amount of weight gain in children ages 1 to 6 years, that is not clinically significant 
  • is not associated with weight gain in children ages 7 to 18 years. 
“I think caution is definitely in order and that when possible, parents should give whole fruit to kids, instead of fruit juice,” says lead author Dr Brandon Auerbach. "Water or low-fat unsweetened milk are other good alternatives to 100 percent fruit juice.”

While we agree water and low-fat milk are good drinks for kids, they aren’t alternatives to 100% fruit juice because they don’t deliver vitamin C. It’s worth remembering that some young children won’t touch veg and fuss a fair bit about eating enough whole fruit so they may miss out. Call us old fashioned, but we think whole fruit or 100% fruit juice is better than vitamin drops or a chewable supplement.

We asked dietitian Nicole Senior, who has a 4-year-old, for some words of wisdom for parents of picky eaters. “Pure fruit juices are fine for kids but in small quantities. Use them as a flavour base and add water in a 1:3 (that will make up 1 cup) ratio to obtain their nutritional benefits without too many kilojoules (calories)” she says, adding, “just so you know, ¼ cup (60ml) 100% home-squeezed orange juice will provide a pre-schooler with 32mg vitamin C (that’s nearly the recommended intake (35mg/day) for this age group).”

Study: Fruit Juice and Change in BMI: A Meta-analysis

Contact: Address correspondence to Brandon Auerbach, MD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, Box 359780, 325 Ninth Ave, Seattle, WA 91804. E-mail: auerbach@post.harvard.edu

Child with juice


Obesity myths are abundant, annoying, and problematic for people who want to move on to real solutions. Thanks to Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth for this report on Ruopeng An and Roland Sturm’s research funded by the Rand Corporation.

Myth #1: Obesity Is an Epidemic of Poorly Educated, Low SES People The truth is that people at all education and economic status levels are gaining weight. Different groups started with different rates of obesity. But all those groups have moved up in lockstep.

Myth #2: Obesity Is a Problem of Blacks and Hispanics Once again, different racial and ethnic groups are gaining weight in parallel. While black and Hispanic Americans have a higher prevalence, the problem is growing across all racial and ethnic groups.

Myth #3: The South is Where the Problem Is Growing This myth has two big problems. First, as An and Sturm explain, obesity prevalence appears to be growing across the board in every state. But even more important is the flakiness of the numbers for state by state obesity rates. Those numbers are based on self-reports of height and weight. Self reports are unreliable. Worse, the degree of their unreliability varies from place to place and from time to time. We’ve explained this one here.

Myth #4: People Don’t Have Time to Exercise The truth is that Americans have more leisure time than ever. They report working out more than ever. Now of course, those self-reports need a grain of salt. But it’s not clear that running around in our yoga pants is doing much to fight obesity. Mainly, it’s a fashion and virtue statement.

Myth #5: Missing Out on Fruits and Veggies Is Making Us Fat Overall, Americans are eating more. And we are eating more fruits and veggies – just not enough to keep Mom and our dietitian happy. The message of “eat more” works perversely. People eat more of whatever’s being promoted – without cutting back on anything else.

Moving on An and Sturm admit that rock-solid, evidence based solutions don’t exist. They suggest that the “eat more healthy stuff” and “do more healthy things” strategies are not changing obesity trends. Perhaps we have not adapted very well to abundance. Being economists, they like the idea of taxing empty calories to drive calorie consumption down across the board. It’s a reasonable theory, but it needs to be tested. Otherwise we risk creating a new myth. Let’s see what happens in Mexico. Just driving down soda consumption is not the same as driving down obesity rates.

Studies: Click here and here to read more from An and Sturm.

Afterword: Prof Manny Noakes’ and colleagues study shows Australians are eating less added sugar, drinking less soft drink and less juice, but eating more whole fruit and a greater range of veggies, including more beans and legumes and more whole grain cereals so they deserve a big pat on the back for that. However, Aussies are still prone to falling off the wagon – drinking more calories in the form of alcoholic beverages and consuming more chocolate and confectionery.


We recently received a query from a reader re BGL meters whose new one reads on the high side. “I have done the recommended calibration test” he says “and while in the appropriate range the results are in the higher half of the range. My older meter still works well and seems to be much more accurate, judging by my HBA1c results and personal experience of lower readings. Info on this area would be very valuable, as it bears directly on food choices and insulin dosage.” Diabetes UK provide a monitor guide that may be of use. Seems to us this is something every diabetes organisation should be providing.


The Nordic Way

Seeing good science translated into something that can enhance both life and health is a true delight. So, if you’re looking for something different, consider The Nordic Way. Like the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is a satisfying way of eating, with deep roots in culture. And it has an impressive body of science to document health benefits. Arne Astrup, Jennie Brand-Miller, and Christian Bitz have just published a fine volume on the subject.

Compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is barely a blip in popular culture. But, it’s beginning to generate some buzz. Some of the iconic foods of this Scandinavian food culture – whole grain rye, unsweetened yogurt, wild berries, root vegetables, herbs, and healthful fatty fish – are becoming favorites for avant-garde chefs.

Beyond the distinctive flavors of this cuisine, you can find some solid evidence for health benefits. In January, a Danish cohort study found a 14% reduction in stroke associated with following a healthy Nordic diet. The whole grains abundant in the Nordic diet help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The collaboration behind this latest volume on the Nordic diet is a bit of a surprise. It started with a scientific feud. Brand-Miller, a distinguished nutrition scientist from Sydney, took issue with a small study published by Astrup and others in 2004. On the opposite side of the world in Copenhagen, Astrup had suggested that the benefits of low-glycemic diets might be overstated. Brand-Miller – a pioneering researcher on glycemic index – wrote a sharp response in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Though Astrup’s findings were “useful,” she said, “the conclusions should be tempered.” From that disagreement, a collaboration was born. Astrup embarked upon the largest clinical study of low GI diets ever. Based on the results, he reversed his views. Thanks in part to that skirmish, we now have an excellent book of good insights on the Nordic diet. It covers the science. It explains how to make it work. And most of the book is devoted to some beautiful recipes.

Study: Diets with High or Low Protein Content and Glycemic Index for Weight-Loss Maintenance

Book: Click here for the book and here for more on the Nordic diet from Harvard Health.



Infants prefer sweet tastes from day one and this preference continues into early childhood. Human breast milk contains the highest concentration of sugars of all mammalian milks and sweet tasting vegetables (e.g., pureed or well-mashed pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, etc) and fruits (typically pureed) are some of the first weaning foods we give our babies. In nature, a sweet taste generally signals that a food is safe and desirable.

Most fruits that we cultivate and enjoy today are sweet. They are considered a core food group for the simple reason that they are highly nutritious. Depending on the type, they are good sources of a variety of good stuff including vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.


With a few notable exceptions (avocados, coconuts and olives), fruits are low in fat and high in water and carbohydrate (primarily in the form of sugars). Apart from melons and some tropical fruits, most have a low GI due to their naturally high fibre and fructose content (and acidity in the case of oranges). For these reasons, most fruits are not very energy dense (they don’t provide a lot of kilojoules per gram), so they generally fill you up without contributing to weight gain. Long-term observational studies indicate that people who eat more fruit weigh less and have a smaller waist circumference.

 “Sugar” is the dietary villain de jour. Because most fruits are good sources of a variety of sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) they have been singled out by some ill-informed zealots as foods to avoid, or at least limit, in the mistaken belief they may be contributing to rising obesity and associated type 2 diabetes rates. This kind of dietary reductionism may unfortunately lead to unintended consequences like scurvy, which we recently saw in Australia for the first time in modern history, due in part to people avoiding fruit.

Putting ill-informed reductionism aside, how likely is it that excessive fruit consumption is responsible for rising obesity rates in Australia? Dietary guidelines in most parts of the world recommend that people enjoy a minimum of 2 serves of fruit each day:

What’s a serve of fruit?

  • 150g/5oz (1 piece) medium-sized fruit – apple, banana, orange, pear etc.
  • 150g/5oz (2 pieces) small fruit – apricots, kiwi fruit, plums etc.
  • 150g/5 oz (1 cup) diced, cooked or canned fruit
  • 125ml/4fl.oz (½ cup) 100% fruit juice
  • 30g/1oz dried fruit – 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons sultanas
Australia’s most recent national nutrition survey conducted in 2011/12 found that 77% of all Australians aged 19+ years consumed less than 2 serves a day. The same survey found that 62.8% of all Australians were overweight or obese. The numbers don’t add up. Most Australians aren’t eating much fruit at all.

Finally, a recent clinical trial examined the effect of a low fructose (less than 20 g a day) versus “moderate” (50-70 g a day – moderately high by Australian standards) fructose kilojoule-controlled diet in 107 obese American adults over a 6 week period and found that weight loss was 50% higher in the “moderate” fructose group (4.2 kg) compared to the low fructose group (2.8 kg). The authors concluded “the moderate natural fructose diet was rich in natural fruits that contain many beneficial antioxidants. In addition, patients in the very low fructose diet had a higher glycemic index and glycemic load...”

Whichever way you look at it, avoiding fruit makes absolutely no sense at all.

 Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Diabetes Management Journal (Diabetes Australia). He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and co-author of The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York). You can read a review of his latest book, Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), in Glycosmedia Diabetes News.



Many over-the-counter products claim to “clean” your liver of “toxins”. But does the liver really respond to an over-the-counter product that claims to “detoxify” or “heal” its function? In The Conversation, Dr Nick Fuller recently took a look at liver detox or liver cleanse products. Here he answers a couple of basic questions: Can the liver be cleansed and what we do we need to do to have a well-functioning liver.

The human adult liver weighs about one-and-a-half kilograms, making it one of the largest organs in the body. It is responsible for a range of functions. It helps break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins into substances the body can utilise.

The liver acts as a storage unit for these substances (including vitamins and minerals) and supplies the body with them when they need it. For example, when your blood glucose level drops, the liver will release stored carbohydrate (glucose from glycogen) to rectify the problem. It also acts by metabolising toxins into harmless substances or by eliminating toxic substances from the body. Clever marketing has led us to believe it is the food that contains toxins and, hence, following a diet that eliminates certain foods and taking over-the-counter products that “cleanse” your liver of “toxins” will detoxify the liver.

Can the liver be ‘cleansed’? We have a misconception we can “cleanse” the body by following a “detox” diet. This is a complete fallacy. To explain this process one must first understand exactly what a toxin is. A toxin is a harmful substance that enters your body from the environment. Examples include carbon monoxide from motor vehicles, bisphenol A (BPA) from consumer plastics, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Toxins can also include drugs and poisons.

However, substances are only toxic based on the quantities in which we ingest them. The situation in which “detoxification” is required is when someone is being treated in a hospital for a dangerous level of a substance that is life-threatening.

The liver is otherwise working to eliminate unwanted substances in the body through our faeces and urine. These are the toxic by-products from metabolising food. For example, excessive amounts of protein can be dangerous to the liver.

A healthy liver To have a well-functioning liver you simply need to eat healthy foods and limit your consumption of substances, such as alcohol, that cause it to work harder. Excessive consumption of any one food may contribute to an increased load on the liver. Therefore, a healthy, well-balanced diet based on national guidelines is the best liver “cleanse” available, rather than spending disposable income on over-the-counter products that are not backed by scientific literature supporting such claims.

Complementary medicines are one of the largest growing markets in the world. Governing bodies must continue to incentivise companies to conduct innovative research to support the specific claims accompanying their products. It’s imperative companies are transparent in their advertising claims so consumers know what they are spending their money on from both an efficacy and safety point of view.

Evidence for approved ingredients should not be generalised from product to product. This is because the evidence supporting one such product is made up of a unique combination of ingredients and dosages. The most recent review of the regulatory framework for complementary medicines is available on the Department of Health website.

To read what Nick has to say about typical detox ingredients such as milk thistle and dandelion, head over to The Conversation

Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller is Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Development & Analysis, University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre. His work focuses on the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity and associated mental and physical health disorders. He has worked across a diverse range of areas, including dietary and exercise treatments, conventional and complementary medicines, commercial weight loss programmes, medical devices, bariatric surgery, and appetite regulators. To take part in a weight-loss trial involving natural medicines, contact Nick here: www.metabolictrial.com


Nicole Senior pulls the plug on hype and marketing spin to provide reliable, practical advice on food for health and enjoyment.

For years, health professionals have recommended reduced-fat dairy products over their full-fat counterparts as a more heart-friendly option. Yet recent studies are showing that saturated fats in full-fat dairy products may not be harmful to our cardiovascular health after all. Does the fat content of dairy products still matter? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

Until recently, scientific evidence suggested that saturated fats from any source were associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recommendations were made by the US MyPlate guidelines and the Australian Dietary Guidelines to reduce saturated fat intake across all food groups, including meat and dairy products. Reduced fat dairy products were also recommended to help reduce kilojoule (calorie) intake for weight control. However, there are now questions being raised whether such advice is necessary. A cohort study of 222,234 people found saturated fats in dairy did not significantly increase CVD risk, and were less risky than saturated fats in meat. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the impact of dairy foods and dairy fat on cardio-metabolic risk found there is no apparent risk of harm from dairy consumption, irrespective of fat content. The authors concluded the advice to consume low-fat dairy foods wasn’t fully supported by the evidence. So, what’s going on here?

Dairy foods

 What’s special about dairy? Dairy products not only contain saturated fats, they are complex foods that also contain proteins, lactose, calcium and various vitamins, minerals and bioactives that may influence their impact on heart health. In emerging research, talking about food in its entirety rather than its component nutrients is referred to as the whole food matrix and it appears to be important in the case of dairy; a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. For example, the probiotics in yoghurt and cheese produced during the fermentation process may mitigate cardiovascular risk. Another study found that calcium might be protective against stroke. We need future research to investigate these mitigating components.

Are dairy products fattening? According to the evidence, dairy foods are probably not fattening, but they probably don’t help with weight loss either, although a meta-analysis showed they can help increase satiety and studies with yoghurt have shown weight control benefits. We know dairy foods like milk and yoghurt have a low GI, and that’s a plus.

A recent systematic literature review has recommended that more research is needed to determine if the amount of fat in dairy products influences weight gain. But maybe we should stop thinking about the fat content of a food and think more about the whole food. Dairy foods are nutrient dense and many of us don’t eat the recommended amount. You can’t go wrong swapping sugary drinks, confectionary, cakes and cookies for milk, cheese and yoghurt and you’ll feel satisfied after eating them. For weight-loss, reduced-fat, reduced-kilojoule dairy products might be a better option to meet calcium requirements within a smaller energy allowance.

Why is this important? The dairy sector says consumers prefer whole milk and that health professionals telling people to drink reduced fat milk, may in fact make them decide to drink less milk or stop drinking milk altogether because they don’t like the taste. Considering dairy foods are the richest source of bioavailable calcium and most of us don’t get enough calcium, this is a valid concern. On the other hand, reduced fat milk (not fat-free/skim milk, which tastes very different) has become so common perhaps we don’t miss the whole stuff anymore. When it comes to yoghurt, reduced fat yoghurt can have more sugars (natural and added) and starch thickeners to make up for the flavor and texture of whole milk, and may have a similar kilojoule content so this swap may not be an improvement. There may also be satiety benefits to the fat in whole dairy products too.

The un-plugged truth

  • When it comes to dairy food, the other good stuff in it appears to offset the adverse effects of the saturated fat on the heart
  • Dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), regardless of fat content, have important health benefits and should be included as part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • For those wanting to lose weight, reduced-fat dairy products may help you to meet your calcium requirements while maintaining a lower energy intake.
–Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior

 Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.

Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.



It’s so good to pull out the soup pot when those icy blasts announce there’s a change in the weather. Good carbs and good soup are joined at the hip and without the good carbs there’s no good soup, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing like a hearty veg soup that’s a meal in a bowl. In the GI cookbooks we have published with Hachette Australia – The Low GI Family Cookbook and The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook – you’ll find numerous hearty soups. A favourite with GI News readers is Anneka Manning’s Chicken and Pumpkin Soup. However, Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Chicken and Barley Soup is hard to beat when you want a serious winter warmer.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Soups like these start with the magical mirepoix and its key ingredients: onion, carrot and celery. Carrots and celery are easy. But which onion? Here are Kate McGhie’s tips on which onion to use where.

Dry onions

The good pantry staples are brown onions. These have the longest storage life, the most pungent flavour and the longer you cook them the sweeter and milder they become.
Super-crisp white onions have a sharp strong taste making them ideal in chutney, stir-fries and spicy dishes.

  • Red onions are milder and sweeter than brown, which is why you can eat them raw. Often added for a splash of colour in salads, or gently sautéed as a base for soups or stews.
  • Pickling onions are the small brown onions that are ideal for dropping whole into stews or casseroles and of course for pickling.
  • Shallots are good raw for crunch, and gently cooked for mellow sweetness. Browning makes them bitter.
Fresh onions
  • Spring onions (scallions, or shallots, green onions or eschalots) are mild immature onions with long green hollow fleshy tops. They are most often used raw, but can be lightly cooked or pan-fried as a garnish.
  • Salad onions (sweet onions) with long fleshy green tops and a golf-ball sized white bulb are mature spring onions. They have a stronger flavour than the juvenile version and can be used raw or cooked



First-ever Great Australian Bake Off winner, Sian Redgrave, dropped by the GI News Kitchen and effortlessly threw together a minestrone to make the most of new season winter veg. She may have taken out top prize in 2015 with her impressive layered dessert of profiteroles topping a chocolate mud cake (not one for us), but what she loves to cook most of all is simple, flavoursome Italian fare. Watch this space.


The key to making a minestrone (or any soup) says Sian is not rushing to get a meal on the table, but relaxing and enjoying the cooking time in the kitchen, adding each vegetable at the right moment to preserve and enhance its flavour. Sian used ditalini pasta, a tiny pasta that’s perfect for minestrone or pasta e fagioli. Barilla was the brand she found. As for the potato, look for a lower GI one if you can such as Carisma, Nadine or Nicola.
Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 45 mins • Serves: 6


3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 lean rashers bacon, diced
Chunk parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
1 medium potato, diced
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 can cherry tomatoes, drained (reserving the liquid)
½ cup ditalini pasta
1 can borlotti beans, drained
1 zucchini, cut into rounds
2 handfuls finely sliced cabbage
2 handfuls finely sliced cavolo nero

To serve

1 tablespoon basil pesto
Grated parmesan
Handful basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, place the olive oil, garlic, chilli, oregano and onion and cook until the onion is translucent and caramelised. • Stir in the carrots, celery, and bacon and continue cooking until they start to soften. • Add the parmesan rind, potato, reserved tomato juice, and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is nearly cooked. • Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. • Stir in the beans, then add the cabbage, cavolo nero, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and let them heat through for 1–2 minutes – no longer as you want them to retain the vibrancy and texture of the greens. • Serve with parmesan cheese (grated or finely peeled with a vegetable peeler), little dollops of pesto dollops and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serve 
1520 kJ/ 365 calories; 17g protein; 16g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.33); 31g available carbs (includes 10g sugars and 21g starch); 12g fibre; 1348mg sodium; 1007mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.34.


Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

Mexican Carrot Soup
One of the highlights of a trip to Mexico was discovering soup with slices of avocado and soft cheese. Add them just before serving so they warm and melt into the soup. If the chipotle powder garnish is too hot for you, sprinkle with smoked paprika instead.
Prep: 10 mins • Cook: 40 mins • Serves: 4

 Mexican Carrot Soup

1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Mexican spice blend
1 kg (1lb 2oz) carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
250g (9oz) queso asadero or firm mozzarella, cut into 1cm (½in) dice
1 cup fresh coriander leaves

To serve
crème fraiche or light sour cream
Chipotle powder
Toasted corn tortillas

Sweat the onions, covered, in a little oil until soft. Add spices, cook for 1 minute, then add carrots and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots are very tender. Puree soup until smooth, and season to taste. • Divide avocado and mozzarella between shallow soup bowls, then ladle over soup. Add a dollop of crème fraiche and garnish with coriander leaves and chipotle powder and serve immediately.

Per serve
2270 kJ/ 542 calories; 21g protein; 30g fat (includes 14g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.88); 40g available carbs (includes 17g sugars and 23g starch); 14 fibre; 1855mg sodium; 1080mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.72.



We ran this recipe from Alan’s book, Reversing Diabetes, in 2016. Peter Johnson, one of our readers, recently made it on a very warm morning in Sydney, enjoyed some with lunch with his wife and sent us feedback and a photo. Here’s his report.

“Firstly, although I rested the dough for 15 minutes before attempting to knead it, I found it to be far too wet for comfort. I added flour using a shaker and I guess about 125 grams before it seemed ‘right’. I did add 1½ teaspoons salt. The dough only took 1 hour to complete the first rise. The second rise in the bread tin was very quick too; in fact, I barely had time to preheat the oven. However, the loaf cooked beautifully. It is a dense loaf – which I like – and is very tasty. Next time though I won’t sprinkle seeds on top. They simply fell off after cooking and created a mess. I hope the feedback gives an incentive to others to make this loaf. I've been trying other similar recipes but yours is a winner and I will be making it again. I've been making bread, purely as an unqualified cook, for over 40 years and still love the process – and the product.”


 Daily bread For trivia fans, we have just discovered thanks to the Dutch Anglo-Saxonist, that “the etymology of the Old English words for lord, lady, retainer and slave reveal rather traditional (perhaps pre-Anglo-Saxon) role patterns in a household based on bread.

  • hlāford ‘lord’ (< *hlāf-weard ‘guardian of the bread’) 
  • hlǣfdige ‘lady, woman’ (< *hlāf-dige ‘kneader of the bread’) 
  • hlāfǣta ‘dependant, retainer’ (< *hlāf-ǣta ‘eater of the bread’) 
  • hlāfbrytta ‘slave’ (< *hlāf-brytta ‘dispenser of the bread’)
“Vocabulary reflects culture. Indeed, Old English words such as gafol-fisc ‘tribute fish’, cēapcniht ‘bought servant’, þri-milce-mōnaþ ‘May; lit. three-milk-month’, demonstrate that the Anglo-Saxons could pay tribute in fish, buy servants and milked their cows three times a day in May.”


University of Sydney

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